It seems no other region is in the headlines or nightly news programs as much as the Middle East. It is the crucible of civilization, and of religion.
It is World's largest fossil fuel deposit, and recently it has become the flashpoint of a World wide conflagration.
One just has to look at any country in the Middle East and their troubles and strife are apparent.
Decades of political oppression and a tenuous alliance with the United States. Birth place of the Muslim Brotherhood, an umbrella group
for most Islamic militant groups.
Scene of the World's most recent genocide. A brewing storm on the horizon as UN troops are poised to enter the country by force if
A country brought to the World's attention in the 1980's due to endemic starvation. This once starving country fought a protracted
war against its miniscule neighbour - Eritrea.
Just over a decade old, the tiny nation state of Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993. Sudan accuses Eritrea of
supporting Sudanese rebels. This young country of 4.5 million people could be swallowed up by any number of its larger neighbours.
Yet another starving nation on the Horn of Africa. The warlords of this nation apparently brought the United States military to its
knees. The warlords calculated correctly that the American public did not have an appetite for war in their post-Cold War bubble.
A one party dominated authoritarian dictatorship until as recently as 1999. The old French colonial territory is home to the only US
base in sub-Saharan Africa. This nation of less than half a million people is one of the major assets in the War on Terror. Potentially a flash point
in the ever widening global conflagration.
A nation founded from two states in 1990, it was the scene of the USS Cole bombing terrorist attack. This Islamic nation produces a
large number of Islamic terrorists.
Quite possibly the most peaceful nation in the Middle East. A sultanate, Oman maintains a close military and political relationship with
United Arab Emirates:
Most recently the UAE has come to the fore because of the hotly disputed take-over-bid of British firm P&O. The deal
would place the UAE in control of 6 major American ports, including ports across the Globe. The UAE is a key American ally in the War on Terror. The
major ongoing dispute concerning the UAE is with Iran's occupation of it's northern islands.
The birth place of Wahabi Islam, Saudi Arabia is also the birth place of Osama Bin Laden. The nation enjoys extremely close ties
with the United States, and in particular the Bush family. The Saudi's are fighting an internal struggle against Islamic militants who protest the
presence of Americans in the Middle East.
Jordan holds the largest border with Israel and in 1994 signed a peace treaty with the Jewish state. Home to over 1.7 million
Palestinian refugees, Jordan holds a large stake in the Mid-East peace process. Jordan was a member of the pan-Arab forces that attacked Israel in
Quite arguably the focus point of Western interest in the entirety of Middle Eastern conflict. The partition of the Palestinian mandate
into Jewish and Arab states was created by a UN assembly vote in 1947. A negotiated peace treaty between Israel and the rest of the Middle East,
including the creation of Palestine, would be the single biggest blow to militant Islam.
The once US-backed nation of Iraq fought a protracted war against Iran in the late 1980's. It's long-time dictator, Saddam Hussein, was
deposed in an American-led invasion force in 2003. The nation now stands on the precipice of civil war as Sunni and Shiah muslims vie for control of
the fledgling Iraqi government. Second only to Israel as the biggest source of Islamic militant anger.
Syria was recently forced to remove its stranglehold over Lebanese government and security. Syria moved into Lebanon in 1976 to prevent
Palestinian forces from overthrowing the Maronites. Syrian officials have been accused of assassinating the popular ex-Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik
Hariri. Syria has signed a mutual defence pact with Iran.
The scene of much conflict in the latter decades of the 20th century. Lebanon was twice invaded by Israel who were aiming to remove
the PLO's presence in the fractured nation. Syria held sway in Lebanon until 2005 via its domination of Lebanese puppet governments loyal to
Animosity between Iran and the United States harks back to the Iranian revolution and the American support for the deposed Shah (king) of
Iran. America's denial of Iranian requests to hand over the Shah who fled there sparked the Iranian Embassy hostage crisis.
Another hostage crisis tied to Iran, this time in Lebanon, nearly brought about the collapse of the Reagan Administration. The Iran-Contra affair had
the Reagan administration selling arms to Iran to secure the release of American hostages. However the sales of weapons to Iran began before the
hostages were taken and continued until after their release.
Iran has come to the fore recently due to its nuclear enrichment programme. The process of nuclear fuel enrichment is expressly provided for under the
NPT, which it signed, but due to the history of animosity between the US and Iran the United States protests this nuclear enrichment. The United
States asserts that the Iranians are aiming for nuclear weapons and that they should not be allowed to enrich uranium.
The only muslim nation to be included in the EU if accession talks are successful. Turkey is held up by the West as the role model for
how muslim nations should be run. A prosperous nation with a secular government, Turkey is the darling of Europe. Turkey however is fighting against
Kurdish militants who are seeking to create a Kurdish state which would span Turkish and Iraqi territory. This rebel presence was the main opposition
point of Turkish involvement in the 2003 Iraq invasion.
The interplay between the nations of the Middle East has far reaching consequences. One only has to look at the effects the Iranian oil shock had on
World markets. Or take the War on Terror and how it affects the very principles of the democratic nations of the World.
It is my hope that this thread can include a wide ranging discourse of how these nations problems are intertwined with one another, including the West
which seeks to quell these long standing problems. Have at it
[edit on 5/3/06 by subz]